1960 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

1960 Trivia, History, and Fun Facts

Quick Facts from 1960

  • World-Changing Event: The Birth Control Pill was approved on May 9, 1960.
  • The Top Song was The Theme From “A Summer Place” by Percy Faith
  • The Movies to Watch included Spartacus, Oceans’ Eleven, Please Don’t Eat The Daisies, Psycho, Exodus and Swiss Family Robinson
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Doris Day
  • Notable books include To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  • Price of a loaf of bread in 1960: 21 cents
    8 oz Kraft Cheez Whiz: 35 cents
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 66.6 years, Females: 73.1 years
  • The Funny Duo were: Mike Nichols and Elaine May
  • The Funny Guys were Bob Newhart and Jonathan Winters
  • The Bossa Nova was the ‘new’ dance for the early 1960s.
  • The Conversation: Who won the Kennedy/Nixon Debates?
    Radio listeners said Nixon did… TV viewers gave the win to Kennedy.
  • Take our 1960 Quiz!

US Statistics

US GDP (1998 dollars): $526.6 billion
Federal spending: $92.19 billion
Federal debt $290.5 billion
Unemployment: 5.5%
Gallon of Gas: 25 cents
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.04

Top Ten Baby Names of 1960

Mary, Susan, Linda, Karen, Donna,  Lisa, Patricia, Debra, Cynthia, Deborah
David, Michael, James, John, Robert, Mark, William, Richard, Thomas, Steven

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Carroll Baker, Brigitte Bardot, Claudia Cardinale, Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, Anita Ekberg, Annette Funicello, Audrey Hepburn, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Leslie Parrish, Stella Stevens, Elizabeth Taylor, Tina Turner, Mamie Van Doren

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Paul Newman, Robert Goulet, Elvis Presley

Oscars: 32nd Academy Awards (1960)

The Oscars on April 4, 1960, were hosted by Bob Hope at the RKO Pantages Theatre. The night belonged to Ben-Hur, which swept 11 Oscars, a record that stood until 1997. Charlton Heston received the Best Actor award for his role in the film, while Simone Signoret won Best Actress for Room at the Top.

Grammy Awards: 2nd Annual Grammy Awards (1960)

The 2nd Annual Grammy Awards were held on November 29, 1960. Bobby Darin made a splash by winning Record of the Year and Best New Artist for his hit “Mack the Knife.” The event saw the introduction of the Best Jazz Performance and Best Comedy Performance categories, adding more diversity to the awards.

Emmy Awards: 12th Primetime Emmy Awards (1960)

Hosted at the NBC Studios in Burbank on June 20, 1960, the Emmy Awards had Robert Stack winning Best Actor for The Untouchables and Jane Wyatt snagging Best Actress for Father Knows Best. Playhouse 90 secured the Best Dramatic Series with a continuing story, while Art Carney Special received the Best Comedy award.

“The Quotes”

“Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!”
– Candid Camera

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
– Anthony Perkins, as Norman Bates in Psycho

Time Magazine’s Men of the Year

United States Scientists, Represented by George Beadle, Charles Draper, John Enders, Donald A. Glaser, Joshua Lederberg, Willard Libby, Linus Pauling, Edward Purcell, Isidor Rabi, Emilio Segrè, William Shockley, Edward Teller, Charles Townes, James Van Allen, and Robert Woodward

Miss America

Lynda Mead (Natchez, MS)

Miss USA

Linda Bement (Utah)

The Scandals

Chuck Berry (age 34) got in legal trouble when he took a 14-year-old girl from Arizona to Missouri to work at his Bandstand club.

Comedic actress and producer Lucille Ball filed for divorce from her husband, Desi Arnaz, after 19 years of marriage.

JFK was elected President of the United States reportedly with much help from the votes of dead Americans in Cook County, Illinois, and in Texas.

The Space Mystery

Russian and American Air Defense units saw the mysterious BLACK KNIGHT Satellite. At 15 tons, it was bigger than any country could have sent then. It ‘disappeared’ after about three weeks but has been spottily reported for decades; it is possible that Nikola Tesla heard radio broadcasts from it as early as 1899.

Some internet sources say it has been orbiting for around 13,000 years. NASA and other space agencies have been silent about the craft, although they do allow the occasional picture.
Take our 1960 Quiz!

1960 Pop Culture Facts & History

August 1, 1960 – The Twist by Chubby Checker was released. On August 6, Chubby Checker (Ernest Evans) performed his version of The Twist, written by Hank Ballard, on The Dick Clark Show. It reached number one on The Billboard chart for the first time on September 19, 1960.

USAF Captain Joseph Kittinger set three records on August 16th – the highest parachute jump (102,800 feet), the longest parachute free-fall (4 minutes 36 seconds), and the first person to exceed the speed of sound without an aircraft or space vehicle (714 mph during free fall).

Morely Cigarettes are a fake brand of cigarettes used across mass media since April 5, 1961, first used on an episode of The Naked City.

The largest polar bear on record, reportedly weighing 2,209 pounds, was a male shot at Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska in 1960. When mounted, he stood 11 feet, 1 inch tall on its hind legs.

Motown, founded by Berry Gordy Jr., was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation.

On July 20, 1960, The world’s first-ever elected female head of government in the modern era was elected in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Sirimavo Bandaranaike as Prime Minister.

The first CERN particle accelerator became operational in Geneva, Switzerland.

The PLATO computer system, introduced at the University of Illinois in 1960, invented forums, message boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, remote screen sharing, and multiplayer video games years before the internet existed.

Having standard showtimes for films was not expected until 1960. Previously, most films would just play on a loop, and people could enter at any time. Thriller Psycho was one of the first films set to viewing times.

On September 30, 1960,  The Flintstones premiered at 8:30 PM on ABC.

Joanne Woodward received one of the first stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The AFL began placing players’ names on the back of their jerseys. Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox started the practice earlier that year. NOB – Names On Back. The New York Yankees have traditionally never worn the names.

KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid,” as a design principle noted by the US Navy in 1960.

When Eisenhower planned to visit Japan in 1960, the government called on Yakuza bosses to lend an army of their men as security guards. The visit was later canceled.

Amos ‘n’ Andy, an American radio sitcom set in Harlem with black characters, ran from 1928 through 1960, was created, written, and voiced by two white actors.

February and Late August through September, CBS broadcast the 1960 Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics exclusively for $60,000.

The record for the fastest propeller passenger aircraft (541.45 MPH) was set on 24 March 1960 by the Russian Tupolev Tu-114.

The X-15 jet has held the record for the world’s fastest plane since 1960 (2,196 MPH), 1961 (4,093 MPH), 19612 (4,104 MPH), and 1967 (4,534 MPH).

Mariana Trench: Only three people ever went into The Mariana Trench. Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard, two scientists aboard the Trieste on January 4, 1960, and film director James Cameron in 2012.

Starting on February 24, the first submerged circumnavigation of Earth was completed by USS submarine Triton on April 25th (Operation Sandblast, 60 days, 21 hours).

December 31, 1960: The last day on which the farthing, a coin first minted in England in the 13th century, was legal tender in the United Kingdom. The value at that point was less than a penny.

Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey discovered 1.4 million-year-old Homo erectus (Olduvai Hominid 9) in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.

There are three dots on every Domino’s Pizza box because when founder Tom Monaghan started his chain, he planned on adding a dot with each new store. Looking back, 8,000+ stores later, it was a good idea to stop with the three dots, forming a simple domino.

The term paparazzi originated with Italian director Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. One of the minor characters in the film is a photographer named Paparazzo. Fellini took Paparazzo’s name from the Italian word for a noisy mosquito.

Snoopy’s Doghouse

Snoopy’s doghouse is always shown from the side so as never to reveal the interior, leaving what’s inside to the reader’s imagination. On May 8, 1960, the inside of the doghouse can be seen, but it seems empty.  It is apparently not empty.

Civil Rights

February 1, 1960 – In Greensboro, North Carolina, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter.

July 25, 1960 – The same Woolworth Company’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, served a meal to its first black customer.

May 6 – United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960 into law.

In 1960, Republican Frank R. Beckwith was the first African American to run as a candidate for President of the United States in a major-party primary

Cold War

In 1960, the President of France told the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, “I do not know what Khrushchev is going to do, nor what is going to happen, but whatever he does… I want you to know that I am with you to the end.”

May 1 – Several Soviet surface-to-air missiles shot down an American Lockheed U-2 spy plane. Its pilot, Francis Gary Powers of the Central Intelligence Agency, is captured.

July 1 – A Soviet Air Force MiG-19 fighter plane flying north of Murmansk, Russia, over the Barents Sea, shot down a six-man RB-47 Stratojet US Air Force reconnaissance plane. Four of the Air Force officers were killed, and the two survivors were held prisoner in the Soviet Union.

October 12 – Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pounds his shoe on a table at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, protesting the discussion of the Soviet Union’s policies toward Eastern Europe.

Doomsday Clock

Seven minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1960: “Political actions belie the tough talk of “massive retaliation.” For the first time, the United States and Soviet Union appear eager to avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Egyptian-Israeli dispute. Joint projects that build trust and constructive dialogue between third parties also quell diplomatic hostilities. Scientists initiate many of these measures, helping establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations, and the Pugwash Conferences, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact.”

The Habit

Reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
OR watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in theaters.

1st Appearances & 1960’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss, Game of Life*, Etch-A-Sketch, Barbie, Chatty Cathy, Mattel’s Lie Detector Game, Mr. Machine, Play-Doh Fun Factory

Best Film Oscar Winner

Ben-Hur (presented in 1960)

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1960

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
The Chapman Report by Irving Wallace
The Constant Image by Marcia Davenport
For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Hawaii by James A. Michener
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
The Listener by Taylor Caldwell
Love Is a Special Way of Feeling by Joan Walsh Anglund
The Lovely Ambition by Mary Ellen Chase
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Ourselves to Know by John O’Hara
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire
Sermons and Soda-Water by John O’Hara
The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute

1960 Most Popular TV Shows

1. Gunsmoke (CBS)
2. Wagon Train (NBC)
3. Have Gun Will Travel (CBS)
4. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
5. The Real McCoys (ABC)
6. Rawhide (CBS)
7. Candid Camera (CBS)
8. The Untouchables (ABC)
9. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)
10. Dennis The Menace (CBS)

1960 Billboard Number One Songs

December 28, 1959January 3, 1960:
Why – Frankie Avalon

January 4, 1960 – January 17:
El Paso – Marty Robbins

January 18February 7:
Running Bear – Johnny Preston

February 8February 21:
Teen Angel – Mark Dinning

February 22April 24:
The Theme From A Summer Place – Percy Faith & his Orchestra

April 25May 22:
Stuck On You – Elvis Presley

May 23June 26:
Cathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers

June 27June 10:
Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool – Connie Francis

July 11July 17:
Alley-Oop – Hollywood Argyles

July 18August 7:
I’m Sorry – Brenda Lee

August 8August 17:
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini – Brian Hyland

August 15September 18:
It’s Now Or Never – Elvis Presley

September 19September 25:
The Twist – Chubby Checker

September 26October 9:
My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own – Connie Francis

October 10October 16:
Mr. Custer – Larry Verne

October 17October 23:
Save The Last Dance For Me – The Drifters

October 24November 13:
I Want To Be Wanted – Brenda Lee

November 14November 20:
Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles

November 21November 27:
Stay – Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

November 28, 1960 – January 8, 1961:
Are You Lonesome Tonight? – Elvis Presley

1960 United States Census

Total US Population: 179,323,175
1. New York, New York – 7,781,984
2. Chicago, Illinois – 3,550,404
3. Los Angeles, California – 2,479,015
4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 2,002,512
5. Detroit, Michigan – 1,670,144
6. Baltimore, Maryland – 939,024
7. Houston, Texas – 938,219
8. Cleveland, Ohio – 876,050
9. Washington, District of Columbia – 783,956
10. St. Louis, Missouri – 750,026

Sports Highlights

Wilt Chamberlain scored 58 points, the most ever by an NBA rookie, as Philadelphia Warriors beat Detroit Pistons, 127-117 in Bethlehem, PA.

In 1960, the National Basketball Association player Wilt Chamberlain got 55 rebounds in a game versus the Boston Celtics.

Wilma Rudolph (June 23, 1940 – November 12, 1994) had polio as an infant and was unable to walk properly until she was 11. For several years, her family had to massage her legs four times a day, and she had to wear a metal brace. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in an Olympic event.

October 29 – In Louisville, Kentucky, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) won his first professional boxing match over Tunney Hunsaker.

On September 9, 1960,  The first regular-season game in the American Football League took place at Boston’s Nickerson Field. The Denver Broncos defeated the Boston Patriots, 13–10.

On September 10, 1960, during the Summer Olympics in Rome, Ethiopian runner Abele Bikila became the first Sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal. He ran barefoot.


World Series Champions: Pittsburgh Pirates
NFL Champions: Philadelphia Eagles
AFL Champions: Houston Oilers
NBA Champions: Boston Celtics
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadians
U.S. Open Golf Arnold Palmer
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Neale Fraser/Darlene R. Hard
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Neale Fraser/Maria Bueno
NCAA Football Champions: Minnesota & Mississippi
NCAA Basketball Champions: Ohio State
Kentucky Derby: Venetian Way

More 1960 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1960)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1960X
1960 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
1960s, Infoplease.com World History
1960 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1960 Television
1960s Slang
1960s Timeline: PBS
1960 US Census Fast Facts
Wikipedia 1960